To everyone who’s waiting to sign the magazine industry’s digital death certificate: not so fast. This week, an issue of Time magazine featured an image of a 26-year-old mother breast-feeding her almost 4-year-old son and the question, “Are you mom enough?” Meanwhile, Newsweek published a portrait of President Obama on its cover, complete with rainbow halo and the caption, “The First Gay President.” As NPR points out, both magazines have generated a huge amount of discussion, likely amongst people who haven’t bought a magazine in a while.
Poynter calls the Newsweek cover “a flag in the ground for print journalism.”
“[Today], an article in a newsweekly has as much chance of becoming the focus of cultural conversation as a photo of a falling bear or a review of an Olive Garden in a North Dakota newspaper, but an arresting cover is an assertion that while print magazines’ power may have receded, they’re far from toothless.”
Print publishers have long known that provocative images on their covers get people talking. I suspect that an all-digital publication — The Daily, for example — would generate less buzz with a controversial cover image.